Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Chivas de Guadalajara
When: Saturday, July 21, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: FS1, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Deportes
This Friday, July 20, the Liga MX 2018 Apertura kicked off and this Saturday, July 21, the Tijuana Xolos will play their first game of the new season.
The Aztec Canines will start off the new tournament with a clash against Chivas de Guadalajara at the Estadio Caliente. Club Tijuana had a very busy offseason as the team added eight new players and let go of 13 members of the squad. The most notable departures include Damian Musto, Gustavo Bou and team captain Pablo Aguilar.
There were players that were brought in to replace these players like Diego Rodriguez, Eryc Castillo and Julian Velazquez, but it is still unclear if they will be able to fill the voids left behind by the key players. There were doubts if goalkeeper Gibran Lajud would be match fit for this clash, but manager Diego Cocca did confirm that he will start. One player that will not be available for this match is Miller Bolanos, who is currently serving a two-game ban after a harsh tackle on Rubens Sambueza in the semifinals of the previous tournament.
The Border City Dogs are going into this is game in good form as they were undefeated in five preseason games and will now try to ride on that momentum. Another interesting factor will be the new synthetic turf that has already received polarizing reviews by players that have played on it. This new turf should play in the Xolos’ favor as the team has practiced on it for some time now.
There are very low expectations for Chivas de Guadalajara in this upcoming season with a very limited squad and Jose Cardozo as the manager. This offseason seemed rushed for Los Rojiblancos as key players like Rodolfo Cota, Rodolfo Pizarro and Oswaldo Alanis were lost and off the field issues reemerged. These issues and the team’s lack of ambition in the transfer market led to the departures of the now former manager Matias Almeyda and former sporting director Paco Gabriel De Anda.
The appointment of the new manager seemed rushed as there were limited options on the market that was willing to take the Chivas’ job. Now Guadalajara is stuck with Jose Cardozo, who was a phenomenal player in his days, but has been a failure as a manager. His last three managerial gigs have been with Chiapas, Puebla and Veracruz, all teams that have struggled in terms of relegation recently.
The players that were brought in include Angel Sepulveda, Mario De Luna and Raul Gudino, who seem like the type of players that would have been better suited to be role players rather than starters. Chivas finished last season in penultimate place in the league table and seem to have another rough season ahead, despite being the most popular team in the country.
Players to Watch
One of the Xolos’ most intriguing signings this offseason was 21-year-old Mexican winger Jesus Angulo. The youngster will be playing in the Liga MX for the first time since 2016 after thriving for a few seasons in the Mexican second division with Dorados de Sinaloa. “Canelo” is a speedy player with excellent technical abilities that can be a threat up front. He is likely to get minutes this season because of the reestablished youth rule in place and should feature in this match,
There is not very many exciting players left on Chivas de Guadalajara as the star on the team is now striker Alan Pulido. Since joining Chivas in 2016 the 27-year-old forward has 13 goals in the Liga MX and he will need to step it up this season with its limited squad. Pulido is definitely more of a traditional striker, but he does occasionally shine and deliver moments of greatness.
Predicted Xolos’ Lineup: Gibran Lajud, Omar Mendoza, Julian Velazquez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Luis Fuentes, Jesus Angulo, Diego Rodriguez, Luis Chavez, Ignacio Rivero, Erick Torres, Juan Martin Lucero
Diego Cocca has been using a 4-4-2 formation throughout the preseason and it will likely stay that way. The defense seems to be set as the same four players have consistently featured in practices and in preseason games. The midfield is a wild card with several options available for the Argentine manager. Players like Diego Gonzalez and Eryc Castillo could easily find their way into the starting XI on Saturday night. The strike force has been consistent and seems to be set with Erick “Cubo” Torres and Juan Martin “El Gato” Lucero.
The game should be a very entertaining clash to kick off the new season at the Estadio Caliente. The Chivas’ fans will turn up at the Estadio Caliente from across Mexico and the United States, despite the grim outlook of the team. However, the Xolos will have the home-field advantage especially with that new synthetic turf and should be able to get the win. EVT predicts a 2-0 win for Club Tijuana in what should be a cheerful season-opener for the Tijuana faithful. Fox now has the right to the Xolos’ games and this clash will be available on FS1 and Fox Sports San Diego in English, so there are no excuses to miss this game.